Stan Lee was the creator of many superhero comics, and one of the most influential people in contemporary pop culture
He died Stan Lee, creator of many superhero comics and former publisher of Marvel, who had made the most famous comic book publishing house in the world and one of the largest companies in the world in the entertainment sector. He was 95 years old, and is considered one of the people who helped to build and shape a world of very popular characters: among the superheroes he created or helped to create there are Spider-Man, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and many others. The news of his death was confirmed by his daughter at TMZ.
Defined by Vulture “the single most important author of the universe of popular culture in which we live”, he succeeded in “revolutionizing the world of comics” – as the New York Times writes – “giving his characters the uncertainties and neuroses of people common, as well as an awareness of the problems of the societies around them and, often, the sense of humor “.
He had an energetic, charismatic and over-the-top character, and combined the ability to joke about everything – even on himself – with a complete and amused absence of humility: it is said that as a young man he addressed the Marvel employees shouting “I am God! , Writes the Washington Post, and in his autobiography he said he considered himself “the greatest fan of myself“. Lee has always been very well known by those who appreciate comics, but has become universally known because he appeared – often only for a few seconds – in all the films that feature the Marvel superheroes released in recent years
Born in Manhattan, New York, December 28, 1922, he was the son of two immigrant parents from Romania, and had not had a particularly comfortable childhood, indeed: his work was intermittent and slept on a sofa bed. He did several jobs while attending high school in the Bronx – maids, pony express, usher – and after graduation, in 1939, he enrolled in a theater school: he was already attracted to the world of writing and entertainment, and with An uncle helped start working as an assistant in the comic section of a publishing house, Timely Comics, which in the 60s would later become Marvel.
In the beginning, his job was simply to temper the pencils, dine for the designers and make sure all the ink bottles were full, but in 1941 he began to write a few stories under the pseudonym that later became his name: Stan Lee. He chose this because he thought he wanted to use his name – Stanley Lieber – for his career as a novelist he still dreamed of undertaking.
He made a career, slowly, and when the main authors left the company in controversy with the editors, they appointed him acting director: he was only 19 years old. It was supposed to be a temporary assignment, but Lee remained director – and art director – until 1972, when he became president of the publishing house. In the meantime he had joined the army dealing with communication and propaganda, from 1942 to 1945, but his career changed at the end of the fifties: at the time the DC Comics publishing company was very successful reinventing the kind of superheroes – with Flash and The Justice League – and Timely Comics have asked Lee to invent a new superhero team. At the same time the publishing house changed its name and was called Marvel Comics.
Stan Lee then introduced his first characters, created together with the designer Jack Kirby and joined by a complex and sometimes problematic personality, very different from the perfect and one-dimensional identity of the superheroes of the time. The first were the Fantastic Four, then Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man (and sometimes they also appeared together as a team, the Avengers).
All the characters lived in the same “universe” – an idea that had come a few years before DC Comics – and often had the same characteristics in common: to feel the “existential” weight of superhero life. After all, Hulk is not so happy to turn into a green beast every time he gets angry and Spider-Man is a real loser in life, far more than Clark Kent. This was the great insight of the Marvel characters and part of their incredible success: an intuition that the Stan Lee legend, with a convenient series of anecdotes told over and over again over the years, mainly attributes to itself. He himself tells how the Fantastic Four were born:
Everyone has been very successful, so much so that Stan Lee has become the synonym of Marvel and very rich, continuing to play a leading role in all the Marvel company adventures, which in the meantime has been very close to bankruptcy (in 1996-1997) and finally it was bought by Disney in 2009 for 4 billion dollars
Stan Lee always remained the most famous public face of Marvel, crossing the most intense periods of the “war” with the rival DC Comics and the different changes of ownership. The relationship, however close, has not always been calm, since Lee has even sued his company in 2002, because according to him he had not received the rights due to Spiderman’s first film. But in the meantime Lee had become a living legend, the subject of books, films and documentaries, and also very involved in self-promotion: the Spider-Man pose in comics convention, dark glasses, dazzling smile, the motto “Excelsior!” who started signing the promotional material decades ago and which also became the title of his autobiography.